Labyrinth walking is an ancient technique used for spiritual centering, introspection, and prayer by people of many faiths. You walk carefully along the serpentine course of a labyrinth, quieting your thoughts and focusing on a spiritual topic or prayer. As you walk, you come to certain points where you are asked to make decisions. Sometimes these are simple choices such as which path to take next or whether to turn left or right, but sometimes they involve more serious matters, such as whether to continue down a specific path. By making choices and moving forward, you open up new options for future steps; by going back you may find alternative routes that will get you to your destination.
People have been building labyrinths for thousands of years. The first known examples date back about 5,000 B.C.! They were built by early civilizations in Europe and Asia who believed they had spiritual connections with the divine. The Aztecs built huge labyrinths as part of their religious practices, and Spanish missionaries carried out labrys (the name they gave to labyrinths) when they arrived in the New World.
Today, labyrinths can be found all over the world, in churches, museums, universities, clinics, hospitals, even office buildings. People travel great distances to walk in them, often spending the night in remote places while they are doing so.
A labyrinth is a walking meditation path. It is a single circuitous twisting journey from the outside edge to the center. Labyrinths are utilized all over the globe to quiet the mind, soothe anxiety, restore balance in life, boost creativity, and promote meditation, insight, self-reflection, and stress reduction.
Labyrinths were originally designed by the French artist Jean Mabille in the early 20th century. However they have been recreated across the world by many artists, designers, architects, and others who seek to calm the mind and connect with nature through this ancient art form.
In Europe, labyrinths are used in mental health facilities, schools, churches, and homes. They can also be found in public spaces such as parks and streets.
People from all walks of life come together to walk labyrinths. They include parents with young children, students studying for exams, people who work long hours, and those who suffer from depression or anxiety. No one is required to participate but those who do often report feeling better after taking part.
To use a labyrinth, you simply follow any path inside it that leads to its center. This may be an easy pathway or it may be more difficult, depending on how much effort you want to make during your meditation. Either way, you will reach a point where there is only one path left to take, which will lead you back to the beginning.
What is the purpose of a labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a 4,000-year-old archetype that has been employed symbolically as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, or venue of rites and ceremonies, among other things. Labyrinths are used for personal, psychological, and spiritual growth. They are also believed to boost right-brain activation. The word "labyrinth" comes from Latin laberintus, meaning "a walk through a plot of land," and refers to the winding path defined by trees and bushes within which the ancient Greeks and Romans conducted their daily business.
In modern culture, labyrinths are often depicted in art, architecture, and literature as metaphorical representations of human experience, including its challenges and choices before and after death. Labyrinths appear in works by artists such as Mary Cassat, Corot, and Turner, as well as in paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Francisco Goya, and John Constable.
People have created labyrinths since 3000 B.C., but it was not until much later that they were employed extensively as a form of ritual. Today, people around the world engage in some form of labyrinth practice. Typically, participants follow a path through a pre-designed site, such as a garden, cemetery, or indoor setting, with the aim of reaching the center where there is a stone monument or table representing the heart.
Since then, Christians have prayed, researched, danced, traced, and sketched labyrinths in order to use this spiritual tool to come closer to God. Moving one's body and opening one's heart to Jesus are required when using a labyrinth. All you have to do is follow the trail to get to the center. When you arrive, prayerfully consider what Jesus would want you to do next.
Labyrinths were originally used by medieval Christian monks as a method of prayer and meditation. They were constructed as paths leading to a central hub where decisions about their future were made. These paths were often complicated, with forks in them, so as not to allow for easy choices that might lead away from your goal.
People who use labyrinths pray for those they encounter while walking the path, offering blessings for others even though they themselves may not need them. This act of kindness is called "milking a maze" because you go through all the turns trying to reach as many destinations as possible before you run out of milk!
In modern times, labyrinths have been adopted into various religious practices including Zen Buddhism and Hinduism.
There are several places around the world where people can visit labyrinths designed by local artists. Some of these sites are maintained by non-profit organizations while others are found within private homes. There are also public labyrinths that can be found in cities everywhere since they make for interesting outdoor art installations!